Type of HikeOvernight
Trail ConditionsMinor obstacles posing few problems
RoadRoad rough but passable
BugsBugs were not too bad
We hiked The Goat Lake Loop counter-clockwise for a great weekend overnight backpack. Amazingly for this early in the season, the entire loop is snow free, so there's no need for crampons/spikes/axe/poles to deal with the traverses. Overall, the trail is great shape, with only a handful of downed trees and few very minor muddy sections. Highlights included great views, incredible wildflowers, a nice breeze causing few bugs and only moderate crowds - there were a lot of other parties out exploring, but we had plenty of moments of solitude. The 17 or so miles of gravel road is in good shape, with a little bit of washboard, but otherwise nothing too rough for our small SUV. It would be doable, but slow-going in a sedan. Follow signs for Chambers Lake and look for the less than obvious left-hand turn 12 or so miles in. There's two trailheads near each other - we parked at the "Berry Patch", at the base of the Goat Ridge trail since that was where we exited. The trailhead had a clean vault toilet and a picnic table. From there, an easy to identify spur trail brings you back over to the Snowgrass Flat trail (#96). The hike up to Snowgrass Flat is really nice. The Beargrass is currently blooming at the lower elevations of the loop and was pretty abundant. Much of the hike is shaded and there were no shortage of streams for water. From Snowgrass Flat, we decided to leave exploring the PCT for another trip and made our way over to Goat Lake on the traverse through the basin (signed Lily Bain Trail #86). We took our time to enjoy the countless creeks and wildflowers. Up at treeline, the wildflowers are seemingly peaking - the variety and abundance was as good as anything we've experienced. Particularly cool were the abundance of Fawn lilies (white Glacier lilies) and Paintbrush so red it looked like it would glow in the dark. Without a campsite in mind, we made our way towards Goat Lake a chose a well-used site east of the lake. There were several other campers within view, but we didn't expect to be alone and wanted to be sure to use an already impacted site - plus we had easy access to water and a breeze that kept the bugs at a minimum (we found no need for our bug spray). Everyone was respectful throughout the night as we separately enjoyed the awesome sunset view of Mt Adams. After a leisurely morning, we dropped our packs at the Lily Basin / Goat Ridge junction for a quick climb up Hawkeye Point. The steep trail leaves the Lily Basin trail at an obvious junction on the sharp ridge looking down on the basin. It's not-technical and was safe for our dog, but it's not a maintained trail and is a bit loose in places. After climbing over a prominence in the ridge, you'll cross about 50' of snow, but it's not too steep and there's no exposure in the small saddle. The last climb up to the point rewards you with an awesome view back down on Goat Lake, as well as the surrounding volcanoes (you won't otherwise get a view of Rainier from the standard loop). Back at our packs, we had a relaxed lunch before heading down the Goat Ridge trail (#95). It was also in good shape and we were back at the Berry Patch trailhead at 4:00pm.